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Facing an unfair cut from your dream job

Published 11 January 2018

Being called a liar and fraudster is tough to take at the best of times but when it’s by your boss at your first ever job it is extremely distressing.

Devastated Toni was an apprentice hairdresser when she was accused of being dishonest about attending college and fraudulently pocketing wages as a result of it.

It is devastating for any employee, regardless of experience, to have such serious allegations levelled at them. It is understandable that anyone in that situation will fear the worse.

This was Toni’s first job after leaving school. She viewed it as the first step on her career path that would eventually lead to her being able to fulfil her dream of running her own hairdressing and beauty salon.

Toni admitted not attending college on the dates in question, and accepted that she had been paid for those days by the Lancashire-based hairdressing salon. This made her start to doubt and question herself. Fortunately for Toni she had a relative who knew exactly what to do in this situation.

Just over a year earlier Toni’s auntie, who is a NHS manger, had chaired a disciplinary hearing at which an employee was represented by a representative from Caste Associates. The work of our representative made a lasting impression on Toni’s auntie. When she heard about her niece’s case she contacted our employee support centre to ask if we could help.

One of our representatives later met with Toni and reviewed the evidence and discussed the case with her. In doing so our representative sought to establish the reasons why Toni did not attend college on the days in question. Her explanations provided significant mitigation that would be used to argue her case

The employer never held an investigation meeting in order to establish the facts of the case. Had it done so it is likely the case would not have reached the disciplinary hearing stage.

Prior to the hearing Toni was very nervous and extremely worried. A friend had also wrongly informed her that a representative cannot speak on her behalf. The role of the representative was explained to Toni.

At the hearing our representative explained and provided evidence supplied by Toni to show that she was suffering to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This was linked to events that took place earlier in her life, which had recently resurfaced and caused her considerable distress.

The impact of PTSD, stress and anxiety and how these can cause an individual to act out of character were explained to the employer. It was also explained that as is common with many people Toni bottled things up because she did not believe anyone at work would be interested or would be able to help.

It was highlighted that her previous a college attendance and work have been excellent and the non-attendance at college coincided with an emotionally distressing period in her life.

Toni was aware of the procedure for reporting an absence from work and had used it previously. Our representative was able to show that she had never been made aware of a specific procedure for reporting an absence from college.

Toni mistakenly believed the college would inform her employer when she did not attend. It only did so for the first time when it had concerns about the number of days she had missed. The disciplinary hearing was also the first time the matter was raised with Toni.

Our representative highlighted the meaning of fraud and asserted that there was nothing deliberate or intentional in Toni’s actions. He maintained the case was a breakdown in communication at a time when Toni was going through an incredibly difficult period in her personal life. Toni also offered to pay back any wages that she should not have been paid.

The employer proved to be very understanding and supportive and it cleared Toni of any wrongdoing on the spot.

Toni has since gone on to become a stylist and her dream of one day running her own hairdressing and beauty salon is still very much alive.

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For employment law advice or if you are affected or want information and support by any of the issues in this article please give us a call. 

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